Scientists, medical doctors and psychologists work to resolve issues in the material realm – the things we can see, touch, measure – the things we can physically quantify. When a medical doctor cannot find the solution to a patient’s complaint, this ‘unspecified diagnosis’ can be referred to a psychologist to look for a mental solution to the issue. When a psychologist cannot find the root of depression or other mental diagnosis, they refer it to a medical doctor to see if it is physical, hormonal or otherwise quantifiable. Yet, they’ve both missed the most subtle clue that exists quite literally under their nose.
We experience the mind - body connection when we’re anxious, depressed or scared. Our digestion can be impacted, we may have difficulty with sleep, we might experience aches and pains, headaches and more. When the body is in pain, the mind cannot relax and find peace. When the mind is not at peace, the body cannot relax and function at its peak.
So what is the answer to keeping both aligned and healthy?
The answer presented itself in 1970 with Swami Rama. Raised in Himalayan caves, Swami Rama learned the closely guarded secrets of yogic practitioners from India, Tibet and beyond. Sent to the United States to help Westerners evolve and learn the secrets of inner peace and longevity, he shared his subtle self-mastery. Under tightly controlled experimental conditions, Swami Rama simulated death by stopping his heartbeat and brain waves, yet remained fully conscious during the process. He was able to manipulate his energy to change his weight, to move the blood to one side of his body, leaving the other side cold and pale, he was able to raise tumorous growths on his arms and make them disappear within a matter of hours. They still had a hard time believing him and possibly why to this day, these studies aren’t more widely discussed! (see the Menninger Foundation Studies and the work of Elmer and Alyce Green – Beyond Biofeedback 1977)
The Sanskrit word for Life Energy is Prana – you may have heard about this in your Modern Yoga Studio. Literature of ancient Egypt and Chaldea show that they paid great attention to the study of Life Energy, and the Chinese and Japanese still work with Life Energy today in the context of Qi (or Chi). In ancient Europe, it was referred to as animose. When this Life Energy is not steady, our breath is not steady, and our mind is not steady.
Life Energy resides on the breath.
By learning to manipulate breathing patterns, yogic practitioners of ancient times gained conscious control over their brains, organs and physical bodies. By taking what modern society considers an involuntary system and training it systematically under a well-trained and experienced teacher, we gain access to our subtle energies that encompass the physical body, and therefore, gain access to the most subtle powers within us and all around us. Conscious control of the breath is conscious control of the mind.
Try this simple breath awareness exercise:
To test this with yourself, take a moment to still the body and sit either in a comfortable meditative posture, or lying on your back with the spine straight.
- Notice how your body feels, how your mind feels; your emotions/mood, the frequency of thoughts, the types of thoughts.
- Gently begin to deepen the breath – take about 3-4 gentle breath cycles to relax and find a complete breath. Notice where and how it fills your body, where in your torso it goes; possibly to the chest, solar plexus or belly.
- Now gently work to resolve any obstacles in your breath, any bumps or pauses that may occur upon inhale or exhale.
- Making the breath smooth as oil pouring from a spout, now be aware of the length of inhale and exhale. Resolve to elegantly shape the inhale and exhale evenly – maybe 4 or 5 counts for inhale and 4 or 5 counts for exhale.
- Finally, be aware of the space between inhale and exhale and gently eliminate any pauses between inhale and exhale.
- Continue practicing this Pure Breathing for 5 more breath cycles: even inhale, even exhale, smooth and gentle, like you were breathing in a circle, inhaling up the front of the circle to the top where inhale meets exhale and exhaling down the back of the circle until exhale meets inhale and rises up the circle again.
- Now let your breathing become unmanipulated, letting any pressure release, allowing your body to breath you again.
- Observe your mind, your emotions, your mood and the sensations of your body
~What was your experience?~Was there shakiness or obstacles in your breath? If so, were you able to resolve them easily? Was one side of your breath (inhale or exhale) easier or longer than the other or was your breath automatically even on both sides? Did you have a natural pause between inhale or exhale?
When we steady our breath, we steady the Prana – that which moves and animates us. Breath is the mirror to the functions of our mind, when we practice mastery over breath, we increase our capacity, our steadiness and our higher intuition. We attain Self Mastery, and find that anything is within our reach, if we only practice.To learn more about the Science of Breath and Pranayama please contact me directly for a private session, or join one of my public classes or workshops. Pranayama is a daily practice that can and will change your life! Kirsten@LivingYogaDallas.com or Kirsten@PraniLife.com See www.PraniLife.com for more info on my services